Right now I have a very guilty conscience—I should have written this sooner. This morning Dale Hoggins, a good friend of mine from Edmonds, called to let me know he was very disturbed that no local news picked up on the loss of Larry Strickland at the hand of the terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. One day late is better than never I guess. This is for you Larry, and for my friend Dale.
Larry Strickland was one of South County’s own. Born in Bellingham to Lee and Olga Strickland on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1949, Larry grew up in Edmonds—on the hill between Edmonds and Lynnwood. Larry graduated from Edmonds High School in 1967, and then went on to attend the University of Washington. Duty called to him and Larry enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1972. This was his career until his tragic death at the age of 52.
When American Airlines Flight 77 was taken over in flight by terrorists and then flown directly into the Pentagon, Sgt. Major Larry Strickland was in his second floor office which was located in the West Wing. As the plane crashed into the building, Larry’s office sustained the direct hit. Even though this was actually Larry’s day off, he was busy at work. Officially, Larry was newly retired. But always a dedicated worker, he had some last-minute chores he didn’t want left undone. You see, Larry was a very important person in keeping order at the Pentagon. He was retiring as Senior Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on personnel issues. It was weeks before Larry’s body was found in the rubble.
Larry’s wife Debra was also a Sergeant Major in the Army. They lived in Woodbridge, Virginia. Their home was one which showed the handiwork of Larry—even the new porch he had built. As his mother said, he was a jack-of-all-trades and liked to fix and build things around the house. Larry had great plans for his retirement; plans for the house and for spending time in the outdoors. From his father a man whose business was in the fishing industry, Larry learned to love fishing. He was also anxious to spend more time with his three children—children from an earlier marriage.
Questioned after Larry’s death, his mother spoke of her son with love, saying that Larry could do a little bit of everything—just like his father. Mr. and Mrs. Strickland were thankful that Larry had visited them at their Edmonds home just the month before his death.
Today, 15 years later, Larry has grandchildren who will never know their grandfather, both of his parents are gone, and his wife Debra has retired after 35 years of service. In addition, the loss of her big brother is mourned by Larry’s sister Donna.
— By Betty Lou Gaeng
Betty Gaeng is a long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. She researches and writes about the history and the people of South Snohomish County.